Atheist Billboard Goes Up in Duluth, Minnesota March 9, 2011

Atheist Billboard Goes Up in Duluth, Minnesota

The Lake Superior Freethinkers in Duluth, Minnesota just put up an atheist billboard!

The billboard, which costs $800 for one month, was sponsored by the United Coalition of Reason — as have all the other billboards with this particular image/slogan.

Reaching out to the like minded isn’t the only goal of the effort: “We want people to know you can be good without God,” said Bill van Druten, founder of Lake Superior Freethinkers. “We’re your friends, neighbors and family members. We contribute to our communities and are true to our values.”

This one doesn’t have the “bite” that some of the more aggressive atheist billboards have had, but in a city like Duluth, the Lake Superior group could get the desired publicity.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Claudia

    Yay! Score one for the nice guys! My personal favorite is “Are you good without God? Millions are.” but this one rocks too.

  • That’s a good looking billboard, nice message, and what a low price! Score.

  • Venture Free

    My personal favorites are the ones along the lines of “Millions are good without God.” Those do double duty. They let atheists know that they are not alone, and they can spark real conversation. Even though it is a simple statement of fact, it feels like an attack on religion, which means religious folks must explain why they feel it is an attack and we must explain why we feel that it isn’t. That will almost inevitably lead to deeper topics (assuming you’re not just talking to a religious @$$hole whose only argument is “You’re going to hell!”).

    The type of ad shown here does the first job well enough, but isn’t so good at the second.

    That said, just about any ad promoting atheism is a good thing. Yay Duluth!

  • Oh my god that’s the most offensive billboard I’ve ever seen! [/sarcastic fundie]

  • ACN

    I like it! Unlike some of the graphic design abominations AA makes, it looks clean and simple. There is something to be said for that.

  • Jane Smith

    Concise, to the point and effective!

  • I like it! Clean design, to the point, no ambiguity in the message. And for those who prefer a more “in your face” message such as AA uses… never fear, theists will still be outraged and faux-offended

  • Carlie

    Love it! I actually like it more than the “millions are good without God”, because that one opens the door directly to the retort “that doesn’t matter, because salvation isn’t based on being good”. This one is just a no-nonsense statement. There’s nothing for a theist to grab onto and claim that it’s wrong or misleading or theologically incorrect or whatever. Just a simple statement indicating that there are a lot of atheists out there.

  • Kimpatsu

    I give it 24 hours before the billboard is vandalised.
    Anyone want to take my bet?

  • You’re on, Kimpatsu. I bet you one dozen fresh, grade A babies it stays pristine for more than 24 hours. 🙂

  • Rollingforest

    If the goal is to raise money, then no this ad will not get people in a fighting spirit enough to do that.

    But if the goal is to make Atheism more socially acceptable, then I think that this billboard does it very nicely.

    I do think that picking a spot that was further off the ground might help with reducing vandalism.

  • Vandalism was my first thought, too.

  • jolly

    It is in Duluth. The chance of vandalism goes way down.

  • EMB

    Yeah, given that this is Duluth, Minnesota that we are talking about, I’d actually be surprised if the billboard got vandalized. It’s not, after all, just the atheists who tend to be nicer thereabouts than elsewhere in the country…

  • JM Shep

    I’d say it’ll get vandalized at some point, and that’s coming from a home-grown Minnesotan. Generally those communities north of Hwy 2 (what is considered ‘Up North’ around here) tend to be less tolerant than what I’m used to here in ‘The Cities.’ Don’t get me wrong, northern Minnesotans, some of you are great, but you’re the exception, not the rule.

    Kudos to the Lake Superior Freethinkers, and good luck with your campaign!

  • Margy

    @EMB said:

    Yeah, given that this is Duluth, Minnesota that we are talking about, I’d actually be surprised if the billboard got vandalized. It’s not, after all, just the atheists who tend to be nicer thereabouts than elsewhere in the country…

    I hope you are right! This is SO much more appealing than the in-your-face, aggressive AA signs.

  • Suz

    Where in Duluth is this? I live in MN. I think I’ll get my photo taken standing next to it.

    How did Duluth beat Minneapolis to this?

  • CanadianNihilist

    It’s certainly more along the lines of this site. Although it probably won’t accomplish anything, and the Christians will still find a way to complain about it.

  • Eskomo

    Yea, Duluth. Couldn’t happen to a cooler city (that’s temperature, not hipness.)

    The LSFreethinker web site says that is on Central Entrance. A popular road in Duluth.

  • Blacksheep

    It’s certainly more along the lines of this site. Although it probably won’t accomplish anything, and the Christians will still find a way to complain about it.

    have you read many postings here? I’ve realized visiting this site that Christians do not have the corner on complaining!

  • @Blacksheep:

    Do you remember the outrage over the bus ads in Houston by Texan Christians?

    The ones that said “Millions are good without God”?

    Yea… some Christian will be offended by this.

  • Blacksheep

    Yea… some Christian will be offended by this.

    Of course they will be, and more than some. I was responding to Canadian Nihilist who was making it sound as if Christians somehow complain more than others.

  • @Blacksheep:

    Well, I think CN was more speaking in line with what I said, that some Christian group is going to find offense at this particular billboard.

    Everyone complains about stupid things, Christians about how atheists exist, atheists about how Christians complain, then Christians complain about how atheists are complaining that Christians are complaining, then atheists begin complaining about how Christians are complaining about how atheists are complaining about how Christians are complaining, and then everybody gets ice cream.

  • Steve

    But will be ice cream be supplied by an atheist or a Christian company?

  • LifeTrekker63

    I wonder how much it would cost to put up a few billboards like that here in the “Twin Cities” area? I’m sure a lot more than $800 each per month due to the larger market size. I’m sure it would get some press though. This area hasn’t earned the nickname “The Bible Necktie” for nothing, don’t ya know. 😉

  • Blacksheep

    @kev,

    and then everybody gets ice cream.

    We agree on something!

  • ACN

    Yay ice cream!

  • @Steve:

    Who cares? It’s fucking ICE CREAM!

    @Blacksheep:

    Vanilla or chocolate?

  • Liking this one.

    The problem with some of the other recent billboards wasn’t so much aggressiveness as outright dishonesty. (No, religious people don’t “know there is no God” or “know they’re all scam.” And claiming that’s not what the signs mean is disingenuous too.)

    Basically, I wish American Atheists would stop lying for attention.

  • CanadianNihilist

    Ice cream sounds good.

  • LifeTrekker63

    Garren says:

    “The problem with some of the other recent billboards wasn’t so much aggressiveness as outright dishonesty. (No, religious people don’t “know there is no God” or “know they’re all scam.” And claiming that’s not what the signs mean is disingenuous too.)

    Basically, I wish American Atheists would stop lying for attention.” End quote.

    I agree. As a recent de-convert from evangelical Christianity myself, I totally understand what it means to “believe with all of my heart.” Christians really can’t see that the doctrines and teachings of their religion are false and that it is very unlikely that their God, or any god for that matter, really exists. Most have not even thought about it, and they certainly have not taken the time to critically examine their own religion. They have just accepted, unthinkingly, what they have been taught all of their lives. It is like they have on a pair of sunglasses that only allows in information that they already agree with and blocks out all of the rest. I think we are all prone to this to a certain degree because of the well documented phenomena of confirmation bias, but I think that religious believers (or others that hold on to beliefs in a dogmatic manner) are somewhat more prone to this.

    I may be wrong on this, but I have a theory about one reason why the AA may have posted these more aggressive types of billboards. It seems to me that many of the most outspoken of the “new atheists” were never former Christian believers themselves. Dawkins and Hitchens come to mind here. They therefore have a hard time understanding that Christian believers really do believe this stuff. They never have, so why would anyone else unless they were being intentionally deceitful?

    On the other hand, there are others that are more charitable and understanding in that they understand that Christians really believe this stuff, since they were former believers themselves. Michael Shermer is one well know atheist that comes to mind that fits this description. He also seems to take a more “Friendly Atheist” type of approach in his writings.

    In any case, I much prefer this less aggressive and more honest approach. I think the aggressive and deceitful AA approach only serves to reinforce the stereotype that most people, evangelical Christians specifically, already have in their minds about who atheists are and how they behave. As the old saying goes, you will attract more flies with honey than you will with vinegar.

  • martha

    I am from Duluth originally. Odds are the billboard will not be vandalized, though you never know as it only takes one nut to cause a problem. Anyway, Duluth is uber-liberal. It is the more rural parts of the state that are conservative.

  • Jesse P.

    I agree with the odds that it won’t be vandalized, though I know there are some people that would go nutso about this. Duluth and much of northerneastern MN is fairly progressive on these kinds of things. Central Entrance is a great place for this and will get a lot of exposure. I’ll definitely be glad to see this next time I make my way through there.

  • Robster

    What is needed is a hot new religion based on Sesame Street with big bird as the messiah. This way the kiddies can spend fun filled hours learning less about sky fairies and friends and more about letters and numbers. This way, the kiddies will be away from registered kiddie adulterers (priests et al)and be with Big Bird. the yellow bird is a positive being, there is some evidence of its existance and it can teach spelling.

  • JenV

    I agree that it probably won’t be vandalized. It’s a college town, too, remember.

    I was just there last weekend! Now I’m pissed that I didn’t know it was up…I would have at least driven by it to gaze upon it. 🙂

    Central Entrance is one of the busiest streets in Duluth, as it leads to the MALL and all the other big box stores in the area. It should get a lot of views!

    Hopefully I’ll be able to see it next time I head up to visit the folks.

  • JJR

    David Silverman, to his credit, explained that the target audience for the more aggressive Am. Atheist billboards are those who don’t actually believe but still dutifully sit in church pews anyway for social/familial/whatever reasons. He wants them to stop doing that and admit they know it’s B.S. and drop the act of going through the motions already.

    It’s not targeted at those who are religious and truly do believe. They’ve gotta figure that nonsense out on their own, if they ever do.

  • Dan W

    These types of signs, and the “Millions are good without god” ones, are my favorites. Far better artistic design than the more recent American Atheists ones, and less deliberately offensive as well. Of course, some theists will still take offense to even the least offensive atheist signs. And when they take offense at signs like the one in Duluth, it helps us and makes them look bad.

  • Blacksheep

    Vanilla, where you can see the beans.

  • @Blacksheep:

    Aw yeah. You’re alright in my book, high five o/

  • ACN

    Vanilla, where you can see the beans.

    Yes please.

  • Blacksheep

    o/